The Reasoning of Reason

In a recent article about deciding whether to teach intelligent design in American schools one (science?) teacher had this to say:

“I think if we look at where the empirical scientific evidence leads us, it leads us towards intelligent design.

“[Intelligent design] ultimately takes us back to why we’re here and the value of life… if an individual doesn’t have a reason for being, they might carry themselves in a way that is ultimately destructive for society.”

All italics are mine. This of course is an old argument and one that I have always felt is flawed but haven’t been able to say why… until now.

Firstly, the why are we here really isn’t a question here but an answer. So naturally his reason for being here will ultimately taint his idea of the value of life. The assumption is that the reader will all agree or sympathize with his reason for being here. But that is not always the case.

As a Chinese and a Buddhist I was never taught or told that there needed to be a reason for living. As matter of fact it has never been a point of contention or a cause for distress. It is only when I speak in English that I have to even worry or think about this. In other words, it is a culturally influenced idea and possibly a linguistic one also.

Generally one can be expected to be offended by his statement of belittlement (he basically dismissed all of non-Chiristian thought in one sentence). But getting upset would be unnecessary and futile. And it would solve nothing.

On closer inspection, here is an example of a man who wants his cake and eat it too. Because unless he convinces himself of intelligent design he would either have to give up his vocation as a science teacher or his faith in Christianity. In short, his argument is flawed so that he wouldn’t have to make that decision. And that is all I need to say about him.

6 thoughts on “The Reasoning of Reason”

  1. “Intelligent design” in my mind is nothing more than a way for these traditional right-winged Christian bigots to try to bring creationism as a whole back into the schools. Something like this should be taught in your social science and philosophy classes, where such topics can be discussed. Higher deities cannot be supported, nor can their involvments be supported. (A friend of mine who is a science major says to use words “supported” or “not supported”, since we cannot full prove anything or not.) If something cannot go thru some process to support its hypothesis, then it should not be there.

    I was living in the state of Jersey at the time, near where all the creationism battles were battling. Unfortunately, the idea of church-state relations is perhaps more American than West, and I have to unfortunately living in a culture where Christian traditionalists want us to become like a theo-democracy. (Like we’re even a democracy even then!! Only the electoral college really has any say.)


  2. Not at all. At least you’re reading my posts.

    I’m sorry to say I haven’t been the best reader of your blog either. I have had little time (family and work). But I shouldn’t make excuses.

    I doubt that we can reverse the technological trend within our lifetime. But it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen in later generations. We can only set an example and hope that something might happen beyond our life. We can only hope.

    Other than that, humankind might do it for themselves by killing each other. And those who survive might rebuild. That is the worse scenario I can think of, and one I hope we do not have to follow.

    And you certainly hit the nail on the head with paradigms. Without calling for a new paradigm the environment will continue to be the slave of man.


  3. Hate to say it, but I hadn’t read your “Theory” tab until just now. Excellent formulation. Couldn’t agree more. The one thing I wonder is if we CAN reverse the technological trends of society. It would certainly call for a change of the paradigm within a significant portion of the world…but I wasn’t even referring to that. Is the damage we’ve already done to our planet so irreversible that technology is the only thing that can keep our species alive? I would hope not, but sometimes I wonder. We’ve dug ourselves a tremendous hole.


  4. Difficult to answer in a short space. But generally the Chinese heritage has very much been driven by power without strong religious support. Why this should be so is because Eastern religion has never been about giving a reason for life. Life just is. In other words, the relationship between religion and state is a feature of the West.


  5. yeah… I know… I’ve been messing around with it all morning trying to fix it and can’t figure out the problem. Now, I’m just waiting for some replies to my pleas for help! Who knows…

    science and religion have always been at odds in my culture…think Galileo. The church has been the seat of authority for a long time, and has been slow in giving any credit to science. Our leaders maintain an air of religousness, while at the same time claiming to separate church from state. how about for you and yours? What has been your experience with this in your culture?


  6. Yes! Admission of weakness is not an easy thing. It generally shows that there is no trust of “the other”. This is something I am thinking of posting about later.

    (btw. your page template is playing up. i love some of your points and will make comment soon.)


  7. Excellent point, and something that has always bothered me about the intelligent design argument – even when I was a very hard-core, practicing Christian. Our culture is not very willing to admit to not knowing something… at best, we get a theory, at worst, religion. (At least in my opinion.)


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